In the past three years, Lauren Oliver has published a YA novel (Before I Fall), two middle-grade books (Liesl & Po and The Spindlers), the internationally bestselling dystopian Delirium trilogy, and four ancillary novellas from the Delirium world. And that’s just her own writing – in 2010 she cofounded Paper Lantern Lit, helping authors hone their work. Does her schedule ever feel too packed? According to Oliver, that’s just the way she likes it.
Take this month as an example. Oliver traveled to eight U.S. cities in as many days to promote the release of Requiem (HarperCollins), the final book in the Delirium trilogy. She’s now in the midst of a two-week blitz through London and its environs for more Requiem-related events, including a sold-out reading and signing at Waterstones Piccadilly. (Oliver’s gotten so good at multitasking that she conducted the interview for this article while on a train to a reading at a school.)
On top of her tour, Oliver has also been working behind the scenes on a pilot for a TV series based on the Delirium trilogy, recently commissioned by Fox and starring Emma Roberts as Lena. “I have a close relationship with the producer [Paula Mazur],” says Oliver, who made comments and suggestions on the script. “That being said, TV’s not my area of expertise... but I do feel like my material’s been treated respectfully.”
As far as her own approach to writing, Oliver says she’s always been disciplined and a bit of a workaholic. “I often write two books simultaneously. Usually one of them starts out as a fun experiment designed to give me a daily break from the real book I’m writing. And then that becomes a real book too,” she says. “I think I’m able to do so much because writing is what I love to do. So, often when I have free time, I choose to write and edit.”
Oliver got her start as an editorial assistant at Penguin’s Razorbill imprint, and she parlayed that experience into a venture of her own. In fact, honing and crafting projects generated by Paper Lantern Lit – the boutique “literary incubator” she and editor Lexa Hillyer (formerly with Razorbill and HarperCollins) co-founded – is very much a part of Oliver’s daily routine. While three fulltime employees, some newly hired interns, and Hillyer help juggle the workload of finding new writers, coming up with sellable story lines, and ushering books from the germ of an idea through publication, Oliver spends much of her day thinking about other writers’ work – even while on tour. She also stars in the recently released “How a Book Is Made” video series commissioned by the marketing team at HarperCollins. “I worked in publishing before I became an author, so I knew how a book gets made,” she said. “But many authors don’t! So it was a really fun idea.”
Once she returns from the U.K., what’s next on Oliver’s agenda? She’s hard at work on a new middle-grade series, the details of which, she says, are “super secret.” A realistic standalone novel called Panic (HarperCollins) is slated for release in the spring of 2014. And in the fall of the same year, Oliver is taking her first step into the world of what she calls “grown-up” fiction, with the publication of the tentatively titled Rooms (Ecco) – a novel narrated by two ghosts that inhabit the walls of an old house.
But before all that, when Oliver first gets back to Brooklyn, she’s actually planning to take some time to relax. “I love to cook and go out with my friends and my fiancé and unwind with a book and a glass of wine by the fire,” she says. “Oh, and I love to sleep. I’m an excellent, excellent sleeper.”